Monday, October 3, 2011

Leaders in LGBT Health Gather in Albany

Post by Kimberly Eisen, coordinator of the New York State LGBT Health and Human Services Network

This week, the New York State LGBT Health and Human Services Network (the Network) held its 2011 Network Annual Meeting and Retreat. The Network is a statewide coalition of over 55 LGBT-specific and LGBT-supportive non-profit groups and organizations that serve the non-HIV/AIDS-related health and human services of LGBT New Yorkers.[link to membership page on the website] Network members know from experience and thorough research that LGBT New Yorkers face unacceptable health disparities when compared with rest of the population, and are committed to closing these gaps.

The Pride Agenda, as the coordinator of the Network, hosted the retreat in Albany at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and Conference Center.

With over 35 organizations represented at the yearly planning meeting, the Network focused on reaffirming its mission of ensuring and enhancing the ability to provide needed services to LGBT communities. The work of the Network in the upcoming year will focus on increasing and maintaining public funding for LGBT health and human services, strengthening communications and collaborations among member agencies and improving the sustainability of member agencies in communities across New York State, as well as improving the vitality of the coalition.

As a group, the Network conducts its primary work in five areas – Funding Advocacy, Capacity Building and Technical Assistance, Networking and Peer Support, Membership and Cultural Competency. Each member agency participates in the creation of a work plan that reflects these priorities and addresses the health and human services needs of LGBT communities throughout New York State. Additionally, member organizations participate in issue- and population-based committees. New York State LGBT Health Month, which is held each year in March, is an example of the work that is being done in those committees.

We also had some fun! We were treated to a duet of “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart,” some lunch time trivia and an impromptu gathering in the hotel restaurant to watch “Dancing with the Stars.”

It’s not often that non-profit professionals have the opportunity to network in person and discuss the challenges and successes of their work. The Network Annual Meeting and Retreat has proven to be an important opportunity for statewide colleagues to work together in person on statewide collaborative initiatives.

In the end it comes down to everyday people. The service providers in the Network collectively and individually find ways to make sure all people receive the type of care they need, including LGBT people. Have you ever faced a barrier to good health because of who you are?